This is a place of so much beauty, good people, and amazing resources. Ally, Edna (the teabus) and I arrived via back highways to Albuquerque after accidentally running into some beautiful places like La Ventana Arch and Malpais National Monument (If you haven’t been – check them out!).
It was the right time to visit Albuquerque, as the Balloon Fiesta was just getting into full swing. I’d been hearing about this festivity from various people, including my friend David, who lives in Albuquerque. Through various connections, we happened to arrive the Balloon Fiesta first thing in the morning of my birthday with a bus full of folks and a parking pass to get us in the back entrance of the balloon launch site. Intent on having some fun and making some tea, I made an executive decision to just drive right through the back lot (reserved for balloonists, neighbors, etc.), and right on down to the huge grass lot where the balloons launch from. Tactic: drive like you know where you’re going, nod but don’t make eye contact with any of the folks who are supposed to regulate who enters the field, and find a nice spot amongst the balloons for setting up shop. And it worked!
At first it seemed like the wind wouldn’t allow for balloons to take of, but once a green flag went up, dozens and dozens of balloons started inflating – and we were in the middle of it all! I brewed up some tea, and watched in amazement as the balloons grew to the size of houses all around us. A man came and told us we had to pull the rig off the side of the field, so we did, and continued in amazement as they balloons started taking off. It was a wonderful sight. All around us the sky was filled with balloons, and we sipped tea with joy.
Afterwards we made the trek to a place Ally and I had wanted to go since we saw a video online about it (see it here). The place is called Tim’s Place – a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and hugs. Tim has Down Syndrome, but owns the restaurant, and has a blast being a good host. Tim and his manager came aboard the bus and we shared good stories about the importance of ethos in business.
Randomly, we ended up serving tea at The ReStore Albuquerque’s Fall Upcycle Fair. It was a perfect place for us to be, as so much of the bus is salvaged. People loved the tea bus, even gifting us mugs from inside the store. There was live music, rejoice about new solar panels on the building, several vendors selling upcycled goods, and a storewide half-off sale. Sometimes events like this just come together for the tea bus, and it’s such a great way to share our service. Thanks, Beth!
After some good rest, play time with friends, filling up on biodiesel, and centrifuging some waste vegetable oil, we took off from Albuquerque on a (successful) mission to find my mom’s high school friend. This adventure brought us on The Singing Road, through Tijeras, Cedar Crest, and Los Cerillos (where Young Guns was filmed). In Madrid, a super fun and funky art town, we stopped to serve tea, meet new friends, and admire the junk-atecture (lots of salvaged materials, old freight cars turned house or restaurant, etc.). We met a nice astrologist/tarot-reader who we shared food with, I did some repair projects on her van she was moving back into, and she read mine and Ally’s charts. It was one of those nice reciprocal exchanges that took place over many days in a couple different towns.
In Santa Fe, we had the nice fortune to end up at a cohousing community called The Commons, where a couple friends from back home on San Juan Island are living. It is a great little community of people, and the grounds are beautiful. We participated in a couple community meals, and served some tea in the parking lot, where we stayed for a week or so. Their residents (and our tea guests) included Alice Khan Ladas (co-author of the book The G Spot), Ilan Shamir (who owns Poetry in Motion – a mobile interactive magnetic poetry van), and many more wonderful folks. It felt good to be in a place where people care so much about community. If you don’t know about cohousing, look into it. We also served tea at a really slow farmers’ market, and took some time for self.
We arrived Taos on a Friday evening – just in time to get up early and cruise to the Farmers’ Market. It was rainy, and the market was slow, but we still got some great guests. Eventually the sun came out, and it felt good. Our days in Taos were filled with the cold autumn air, yellow leaves, some mellowing, and much adventuring. The back roads (that Google Maps brought us down) to Stagecoach Hot Springs were rough for Edna, but she made it. We served tea at the Earthships out on the mesa, picked up a hitch-hiker who told stories of local history, made tea at the Hanuman Temple for one of their thrice-weekly free meals, met some other white short bus WVO travelers (Lewis and the Fireflies), brewed up some tea at the Taos Herb Company while they had live music, and made some great new friends. If winter wasn’t so close on the horizon, I’m sure we would have stayed there for much longer. Thank you so much to Dara, Moss, and family for hosting us!
Ally left Taos midway through our stay and headed back to her bakery-on-wheels van in Southern California – a long delayed event. Her companionship on this journey off the west coast has been amazing. She supports this project on many levels and has continued to offer herself as a collaborator, teacher, supporter, and more. I will miss her presence in the bus. Thank you, Ally… seriously!
The drive south from Taos was steep, but beautiful, and landed us in the town of Las Vegas, NM, where we spent the morning in Montezuma Hot Springs, just outside of town. Continuing south, we arrived Roswell, NM. Many towns exist like Roswell, where there’s no one walking around town, there’s no places to meet people, and nowhere that helps facilitate community-building on a daily basis. Towns like this are hard to serve tea in, because there are very few people on the street. At least Las Vegas wasn’t just one big strip mall – there was a downtown here. I was curious, so we parked outside the UFO museum and made tea for people. At first a couple teenagers came by, but lost interest before they even got their tea, likely due feeling sketched out by a stranger offering them something for free. A few stragglers came by, including a woman who works at the museum. She came back a little while later with a pass for me to go in, so I did…
Continuing south, I needed a break from constant travel and serving tea. I knew I would find this place outside Carlsbad, likely in the form of some desolate desert. After Google Maps send me down an overgrown road in the dark of night, I found my transmission acting funky. I finally found the road to the campsite I was trying to get to, but the road was incredibly gnarly, and my transmission was acting up, so I parked out there in the middle of the desert. My long needed alone time was forced by this little breakdown. I spent the next day, however, tinkering with some wiring, and ended up getting the computer diagnosis plug to work (never has before), and determined that it was the electrical connections to the tranny that were pushed around by tall grass from the night before.
That night I drove farther out into the desert to a BLM “campground” (really nothing but fire pits and parking). It was beautiful and away from everyone. I spent two nights there, reading, writing, tinkering, making lists, transferring waste vegetable oil, and exploring some caves that were right next to where I was camped. It was beautiful, needed, and showed me that I need to do this often.
Coming south, I passed over the Texas border, by the Guadalupe Mountains (gorgeous!) and on to Marfa, TX for Halloween, where I reside now. We’ll be exploring a little bit of Texas, so keep your eyes peeled for us!
Thank you also to David and Lauren in Albuquerque, Nate Dog for the bio and veggie, Rosa and Grisha at The Commons, Silvianne the van-dweller in Madrid, Yarrow (for the good conversation and the Rosemary plant), Tim and Ryan at Tim’s Place, the fellow at Montezuma Hot Springs, Ilan and his Poem Van, Alice, and all our other guests, hosts, and friends.